I’ve been lucky enough to call myself No Comply’s DJ for the last four years, but I am even more fortunate to call them two of my best friends. I spoke with Fynn and Ethan Blackwood about their approach and their new EP that’s out this month.

Kyle: Take 17. We are in your back garden. Ethan is doing a painting, and Fynn has a beer. Do you want to introduce yourselves?
Ethan: Why hello, We are No Comply.
Fynn: Two brothers from Auckland.

How old are you both?
F: That’s a secret. (28)
E: [Laughs] I’m 26.

How did it all start?
E: Our story is a lot different to most. Fynn got picked up by Warner Music by jumping on stage with our dear friend Harper Finn. Then Fynn and I formed because the only two songs Fynn had to show the record label were two songs Fynn and I had done together, which ended up being our first two singles, “Tic Tac Toe” and “She Likes”.
F: Nervously, I went to the record label with those demos that Ethan had made. I’d never really interacted with the industry like this. They told me to polish them up and come back in. Someone at the record label helped me get these songs mastered, and he wanted to give me a contract, but I said I couldn’t do it without my brother Ethan. They flew Ethan up from Wellington and gave us a new contract, which is how we became No Comply.

So why No Comply? You know it’s a skate trick?
E: Skateboarding has been a big part of my life. Being 12 years old, getting into skating and the ties that skateboarding had in hip hop. Around that time, I watched Bag Of Suck by Enjoi with Dead Prez – “Hip Hop.” That was my entry into listening to hip hop.
F: Everything that’s encapsulated by skate culture.
E: Yeah, 100%. I remember us skating spots as groms and security trying to kick us out, and we’d run away or try to cause chaos. But really, we just wanted fairness. So No Comply is also a nod to anti-authority.
F: “Not complying with you, man.” [Laughs]

Members of the hip-hop group No Comply sitting on a wall in an urban environment. There's graffiti on the wall. The photo has a light leak and grainy quality to it.

What’s it like working as brothers? Does it get intense sometimes?
F: You’d probably think so more than it does.
E: Yeah, you’d be surprised. Because our relationship had lots of animosity towards each other growing up, after that, we became chill, and we grew up. The contrast between those two states is so huge that it doesn’t even feel like a thing when we work together. There are no issues like that.
F: Ditto. We became best friends, and that’s when we really started to work with each other. After that, there was no bullshit. We take constructive criticism well.
E: It actually doesn’t matter who you’re working with. As long as you can communicate to a level where you both feel understood, then that’s all that matters.
You’re known for your stage antics. Tell me about the “Om.”
E: Kyle, the “Om” is here to stay. It was quite a freaky moment. We did it at Rhythm. That was the first time, but we didn’t get everyone to sit down. But at the [Ones To Watch] showcase, we had to get everyone to sit. It was so strange but so beautiful at the same time. I wanted everyone to be on the same level.
F: I’ve seen him do Oms, and I’ve seen him in his silk boxers crowd surfing. It goes both ways. [Laughs]

“It was so strange but so beautiful at the same time. I wanted everyone to be on the same level.”

I’ve seen the crowd surfing, getting up on people’s shoulders, and hanging from speakers and scaffoldings. I’ve seen it all. You’ve got an EP on the way, BKATIT. Talk to me about that.
E: BKATIT! It’s music we’ve been trying to get out for a long time. So it’s triple as satisfying to get this out there finally.
F: There are quite a few different genres [in it].

What’s the process of writing and releasing an EP like BKATIT?
F: We are contracted to release a certain amount of singles, EPs and albums. We were very clear from the get-go that what we choose to put on a project or release, sonically and stylishly, is totally up to us. Like, “Don’t interrupt our creativity.”
E: We just piece together these songs from all our sessions, like any ordinary day. We will make a song and think it’s pretty cool and will just work on that, and maybe it will end up on the EP. And that’s why there are a lot of different sounds, as Fynn said earlier. It’s important not to restrict yourself to subgenres or genres. It’s just fun to do whatever you’re feeling at the time. I think that’s where the industry is going as well.

What’s next for No Comply? There are rumours of Bristol.
E: Yeah, we stayed there with friends last year, and it’s such a nice vibe.
F: Good young creative culture, not far from London but close to the coast. Ethan’s locked himself in, and I’m going to go after summer.

Words of encouragement to leave us with?
F: Mine would be for people in the creative industry. Especially in NZ. It can feel claustrophobic, closed off, or hard to get yourself out there. I’ve been making music and playing in bands and hip-hop grounds for the last eleven years, and don’t get me wrong, signing to a major doesn’t mean everything. It took nine years for that to happen, and that originated from having to jump up to play a feature at a friend’s gig with the right person in the right room. So it can all boil down to luck and who sees you at the right time. But if you feel like it’s not going your way or it’s not working, just keep grinding and doing your own thing. Just keep at it and let people tell you otherwise. I’ve wanted to give up plenty of times, and I’m sure Ethan has too, but I’m sure glad that we didn’t.
E: Word.

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See No Comply play live

No Comply is playing Wellington’s Meow on Fri, 5 May at 8 pm. Get your tickets here.
No Comply is playing Aucklandʻs Galatos on Fri, 26 May at 8 pm. Get your tickets here.


/ Exclusive / From The Mag